Prop forward Allan Jacobsen has emerged as the unsung hero of Edinburgh Rugby’s heroic 48-47 win over Racing Metro.
Only twice in the history of the Heineken European Cup has a team scored 40 points or more and lost – Harlequins 48, Munster 40 (1997) and Scarlets 42, Toulouse 49 (2006) – and with the clock already ticking into overtime last Friday’s encounter was still in the balance.
The French pack set up one final attack which they looked to round off with a drop goal but as Juan Martin Hernandez lined up his effort, it was the 18st 10lb figure of Jacobsen who was seen sprinting off the defensive line in a way that not only belied his scrummaging bulk but his status as the team’s 33-year-old doyen.
Revealed fleet-footed flanker Roddy Grant, whose try was the first he had scored in the competition to add to three at league level: “There would have been no way back if Racing had landed that drop goal but we had pretty good pressure on Hernandez.
“I was out of the blocks to do my bit but so too was Chunk [Jacobsen]. Thankfully we put enough pressure on him and it is just great to know we have the character to come back from 24 points down to win.
“My try was a trot-in really after Nick [De Luca] showed quick hands in passing and it was the work at the end that really sealed victory.”
Modestly, Jacobsen played down his last-gasp contribution. “I saw Hernandez dropping back and thought ‘let’s get off the line and try and put him off’ and fortunately he just sort of fluffed the kick.”
Both men are convinced that Edinburgh can use their experience in gathering nine points from a possible ten in their opening two European matches to bolster a Rabo Direct Pro 12 league bid starting at Munster on Saturday.
Said Grant: “It was incredible. To win by one point after scoring 48. It was definitely the fastest game I have played in and not surprisingly morale is great.
“The key thing was that we have never struggled to score tries as a team so, effectively, we just needed to stop them scoring and we knew we would do our thing at the other end. Now other teams know Edinburgh will never lie down in the face of almost any scoreline and we’ll always scrap until the end.”
Said Jacobsen: “Around the 50-60 minute mark we might have looked dead and buried but we didn’t think we were.
“That sort of attitude can’t be coached or drilled into people. The boys are either like that or they or not.”
What is particularly encouraging, too, is the determination in the Edinburgh ranks to quickly overcome the frailties that saw them concede five tries in the knowledge that tightening up will be required if they can get near the 19 point target that will surely be required for qualification.
“We don’t want to get carried away because there are things we have to sort out but we will work hard in every game and take what we can out of them,” said Jacobsen. “Our mentality is not that we’ll score more tries or points, we want to defend well also. To have had such a lead (17-3 after eight minutes) then lost it to go that much down is something we will have to look at allowing for Racing being really hard to defend against.”
But Jacobsen, a veteran of 64 European outings, also insisted: “Like the win at London Irish that victory over Racing was something that was good to be part of.
“It’s hard to compare games and teams but nobody gave us a chance at London Irish and having won there that result wouldn’t have counted for as much if we had then lost to Racing Metro.
“In that respect the win is right up there with the best I’ve experienced.”